Silver spoon jewelery

Hi, I just joined so I hope this is where i post a question. I have annealed sterling silver spoons to bend into rings. I have a few problems. First, do i need to use flux to anneal? Second, should I be using the 'yellow' part of the flame or the blue to anneal?  I find it really hard to know when it has reached the right temperature as it never reaches the 'cherry' color that it supposedly is to be. Finally, after I anneal the silver it has the appearance of a brushed steel, not the real shine of silver. What am i doing wrong? I put the spoon in pickle (PH Down), but it has lost it's shine before I put it in it.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Rich Waugh's picture

That all sounds normal to

That all sounds normal to me. YOu want the flame tip to be contacting the work at the point where the color just changes to yellow - this is the hottest part of the flame for transferring heat to the work. Working on a charcoal block or piece of soft insulating firebrick will help, as will adding a back wall to reflect heat back onto the work.

Heat will dull the owrk. So will pickling. Quenching in pickle is done to remove (chemically strip ) the surface firescale created by the heating. After annealing and shaping one usually polishes the work on a buffing wheel of with a felt stick and buffing compound.

I suggest you pick up one or two of the good beginning books on silversmithing - there's a world of good information in books that is only found superficially on the 'net. Robert Von Neumann has a book that has been out for years that will cover all you need to know and is available used for every little through Abe Books and others.

Purplezebra49's picture

great info

Rich, Thank you so much for the advice - I will be ordering a book of Robert Von Neumann's today. And I will try annealing without the flux and the pickle. I have tried buffing the ring with a felt wheel but did not use buffing compound. That will be my next step!

Thanks again!

marilyn's picture

If it is a gray color, you

If it is a gray color, you have etched it by leaving in the pickle too long or the pickle was too strong. It will need to be buffed back to shine.

Purplezebra49's picture

Thanks Marilyn, I buffed it

Thanks Marilyn, I buffed it with a rubber buffer and then used a compound and felt buffer as suggested by Rich and it made a huge difference - i think it could probably be buffed even more but looks 100% better.

I made the pickle from PH Down and did it at a ratio of 1 cup of water to 1 oz of PH Down - is that an okay strength, and to be quite honest I didn't realize you could leave it in the pickle too long so that certainly could have been my problem too.   thanks!

Rich Waugh's picture

That sounds like a

That sounds like a reasonably mild solution, but time will overcome strength. I usually try for a solution strength that strips the majority of the firescale on the initial quench and then heat and dip again a few times until there's no sign of any "pink blushing" on the surface. This is called "bright dipping" ad strips the copper from the surface leaving nearly pure silver to reduce later tarnishing. Then polish carefully so as not to cut clear through the pure copper layer and you'll have a lovely piece.

Purplezebra49's picture

Thanks again Rich for your

Thanks again Rich for your insight - I will do the 'bright dipping' - I am assuming the ratio I am using is good then for the bright dipping? And I think I was buffing a bit too much as well.

Thanks again!